Magnesium and calcium deficiencies additively increase zinc concentrations and metallothionein expression in the rat liver

Br J Nutr. 2013 Feb 14;109(3):425-32. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512001195. Epub 2012 May 9.


Mg deficiency increases the concentration of Zn in the liver. We investigated the effect of Mg deficiency on the expression of Zn-regulating factors such as Zn transporters and metallothionein (MT) in the rat liver. Because Ca deficiency alleviates some of the effects of Mg deficiency, we also investigated the interactions associated with Ca and Mg deficiencies. Growing male rats were given a control diet, a Mg-deficient diet, a Ca-deficient diet and a Mg- and Ca-deficient diet for 3 weeks. Mg and Ca deficiencies additively increased the mRNA levels of MT-1 and MT-2, the MT protein concentration and the concentration of Zn in the liver. The hepatic mRNA level of Zip14 increased with Mg deficiency but not with Ca deficiency. The dietary treatments did not affect the mRNA levels of other Zn transporters such as Zip1, Zip5, ZnT1, ZnT5 and ZnT6 in the liver. Ca deficiency was found to decrease the amount of femoral Zn and increase serum Zn concentration. This did not occur in the case of Mg deficiency. These results suggest that Mg deficiency enhances hepatic Zn uptake by the up-regulation of Zip14 expression and increases hepatic Zn concentration, leading to the enhancement of MT expression. Ca deficiency causes a transfer of Zn from the bone to the liver, which increases hepatic Zn concentration and, in turn, up-regulates the expression of MT. Because Mg and Ca deficiencies increase hepatic Zn concentration and increase MT expression by different mechanisms, their effects are additive.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Bone Resorption / etiology
  • Calcium / deficiency*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Dermatitis / etiology
  • Femur / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Magnesium Deficiency / immunology
  • Magnesium Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Metallothionein / biosynthesis*
  • Metallothionein / genetics
  • Metallothionein / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Up-Regulation
  • Zinc / blood
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Mt2A protein, rat
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Slc39a14 protein, rat
  • Metallothionein
  • Zinc
  • Calcium